Podcasts you need to catch up on now: 2020 edition

Essential podcasts to catch up on: 2020 edition

The temptation to turn detective and listen to a true crime podcast on a long and boring commute is understandable. The arrival of Covid-19, however, means that more and more of us are working from home. But there’s no need to say goodbye to podcasts. Why not use the time saved to learn some valuable career tips that can help you at work?


Here is our selection of the top five available now for those looking for inspiration and advice.

1. The Productivity Show

This weekly podcast offers simple ways to help you save time, while being more productive and happy. These include everything from software to help you schedule your time on Facebook, to tips and tricks to help you declutter your inbox in five minutes, by creating special folders. They even offer tips to help you be more efficient in the kitchen.

Between 2007 and 2018, productivity and real wages in the UK stagnated, according to a report from three economists, including David Hendry of Oxford University. Could being more productive help you to earn more? Check out this show to find out. Additionally, it covers topics such as goal setting, time management, personal development and efficiency.

Recommended episodes:

Covid-19: How to be as productive as possible during coronavirus isolation
The secret sauce to achieving your goals every quarter

Average length: 40-70mins

Listen here

2. Safe for Work

If you like a pinch of fun with your career advice, check out Liz Dolan and Rico Gagliano in this show from Wondery. A recent report from YouGuv shows that a quarter of British employees say their job lacks meaning, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you need advice on how to pivot into a new life as a musician or dealing with “soul-sucking vampire” colleagues, this duo can help. A recent episode featured indie Leeds rock star David Gedge of The Wedding Present talking about how he has forged a 30-year career in music.

This show is a regular on the lists of top podcasts now. But get in there quickly if you want a chuckle. After 100 episodes, this pair will be wrapping up soon.

Recommended episodes:

Tips for a lasting creative career
What to do when work takes over your identity

Average length: 25-30 minutes

Listen here

3. How I Built this

Host Guy Raz explores the stories behind some of the world’s best-known businesses such as Eventbrite, Birchbox and Headspace. If you have an idea for a business but need some inspiration, this is for you.

Analysts at KPMG have warned that a global recession may be on the way, ushered in by the coronavirus. That being said, a recession can be a great time to get started, according to the DNA of an Entrepreneur survey of more than 3,500 business owners across the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. Conducted for Hiscox, an insurance provider, it shows that growth can be faster for startups that get going in a downturn. This podcast promises to weave a narrative journey about “innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists — and the movements they built”.

Recommended episodes:

Conversations about their businesses with James Dyson, the inventor and entrepreneur, and Julia Hartz, who founded Eventbrite, the online booking platform, with her husband Kevin.

Average length: 34-70 minutes

Listen here

4. Harvard Business Review IdeaCast

You don’t have to go to Harvard, one of the top business schools in the United States, to benefit from its wisdom. This podcast hosted by Sarah Green Carmichael, executive editor at Harvard Business Review, promises to bring you the leading thinkers in business and management.

The podcast presents an in-depth take on all things leaders and leadership. The range is wide. In one episode, Michele King, director of inclusion at Netflix, says it’s time to stop telling women that they have to change to fit into male-dominated workplaces, but that the working environment needs to change itself. A report from the Government Equalities Office shows that a barrier to women’s progression in the UK comes from organisational norms and processes that allow gender bias to creep into decision making.

Another episode looks at what made polar explorer Ernest Shackleton such a great leader. In 1915, his ship became trapped in ice, north of Antarctica. For two years, he kept his crew of 27 men alive on a drifting ice cap, then led them in their escape. How he achieved that has become one of the most popular leadership case studies in business schools. HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius and Harvard Business School professor Nancy Koehn analyse Shackleton’s leadership during the struggle to survive. They reveal lessons in building a team, learning from bad bosses and cultivating empathy.

Recommended episodes:

Real Leaders: Ernest Shackleton leads a harrowing expedition
How Companies Get Creativity Right (and Wrong)

Average length: 20-31 minutes

Listen here

5. How to be Awesome at Your Job

Don’t be put off by the cheesy American-style title. This show has been cited by The New York Times, Forbes and LinkedIn Learning as worth a listen. Hosted by Pete Mockaitis, an award-winning trainer and author, it promises to help you to boost your skills and impact at “any job that requires thinking and collaborating,” which is probably most jobs. One Stanford study shows that staff can be much more productive if they believe they are working in collaboration. Participants stuck at their tasks 64% longer than those working alone. They also reported better engagement levels, less fatigue and a higher success rate.

Each week, the host interviews “thought-leaders and results-getters” to glean insights that can help you to boost your performance at work. You may not recognise their names, but you will appreciate their track records. They include Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, for example. The show promises to help you improve your leadership, confidence and fulfillment — while finishing work earlier. Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that given that British employees put in more hours at work than those in any country in the European Union, according to the TUC. Sign me up.

Recommended episodes:

Who gets raises and promotions? The metric that predicts our fate
What high performers do differently, with Alan Stein

Average length: 25-30 mins

Listen here

Photo: WTTJ

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Rose Costello

Editor and writer

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